‘Over 845 road deaths so far’

1500x844Pretoria – Human factors have been the main cause of the spate of fatal road crashes which have claimed over 845 lives around the country so far this festive season, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters said on Saturday.

The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) would swiftly investigate the cause of the crashes and the subsequent fatalities, she said in a statement.

“It seems that the harshness of reality has struck in more ways than one. Not only are most of us in normal festive routine, but many South African families remain affected by this holiday season in ways that are far from festive as a result of road carnages. To them, we pay our condolences and ask the rest of South Africa to wake up to the road fatality numbers, which has exceeded the 845 figure and do what they can to ensure that this festive season is in fact a joyous one,” Peters said.

“We are on the second weekend of our festive season festivities and as government we once-more appeal to motorists to do anything in their might to ensure that they reach their destinations safe. As government we will continue to provide leadership and resources to improve road safety, including developing and enforcing laws, providing safer roads, informing the public about road safety issues, and fostering improvements in vehicle safety.

“Ultimately, road safety is a shared responsibility. Every person who uses the roads has an obligation to act safely and internalise sound road safety norms and values.”

Peters called on all road users, motorists, and pedestrians to heed road safety and offered a number of tips in this regard:

* Make sure your vehicle is roadworthy and registered. Make sure that you check the condition of the spare tyre and also if the jack and spanner are in place. A basic tool kit, first aid kit, and fire extinguisher are sound investments. If you are towing a caravan or trailer, ensure that it is in a roadworthy condition. Ensure that you conduct a thorough multi-point safety check which includes all electrical components, brakes, tyres, steering mechanism, and shock absorbers before embarking on your journey.

* Don’t drink and drive at all. Drugged driving, including the use of any form of medication, is prohibited. It impairs your motor skills, reaction time, judgement, and negatively affects your driving skills. In South Africa, the legal limit for alcohol in a driver’s bloodstream is 0.05g/100ml; and for professional drivers 0.02g/100ml. Being below the limit does not automatically lower you risk of being involved in a crash, rather not drink and drive at all.

* Don’t speed. A safe driver is mindful of pedestrians, cyclists, and environmental conditions. Furthermore, one must be aware that there might be unexpected hazards, such as blind bends, vehicles coming out of junctions, and animals on the road. One must therefore adjust your speed according to prevailing conditions.

* Don’t drive when tired. While many drivers believe they can combat fatigue by listening to the radio or talking to passengers; it has been found that these techniques offer some relief, but it is not lasting. Therefore, the only solution to driving when feeling tired is to leave the road, stop driving, and sleep or rest. Take a 15 minute power nap if you feel yourself becoming drowsy; and stop at least once every two hours or after every 200km – it will help to combat fatigue and will give you a chance to restore your ability to concentrate.

* Do not use your cellphone while driving, it is dangerous. It slows your reaction times, interferes with a driver’s concentration and perception skills, together with increasing the chance of being involved in a crash.

* Drive as if you are driving for others – be constantly aware of your surroundings and drive defensively.

* Distracted driving is a killer – do not text while driving.

* If you experience a break-down, park as far left of the roadway as possible and keep watch for little children who may wander onto the road.

* During wet or inclement weather increase your following distance, keep headlights on to increase visibility, check wiper blades and tyres to cope with slippery roads. Ensure your demister is working.

* Road rage is a reality – do not be the cause thereof and do not be a perpetrator. Avoid driving aggressively.

* Always be mindful of your braking distance and blind spots.

* Using seat belts reduces the risk of fatal or serious injury in a crash considerably. It is the driver’s responsibility and legal obligation to ensure that passengers, especially children, are buckled up and are safe and secure. A seat belt can save your life.

* Only overtake when it is safe to do so. Unsafe overtaking could result in a head-on collision, one of the most serious types of crashes on the roads. Make sure you can see that the road ahead is clear before overtaking. Always keep to the left and overtake on the right. Keep both hands on the steering wheel at all times to ensure maximum control in case of a possible incident.

At night, drive with your headlights on and ensure that your brake lights and indicators are in a working condition.

* Keep a safe following distance when travelling – observe the three seconds rule.

* Do not slow down at a crash scene as this can cause an obstruction for other road users and result in further incidents.

* Understand South Africa does not have a traffic law enforcement officer for every kilometre of road, so be responsible, considerate, and patient at all times.

On the Prasa Shosholoza Meyl service, Peters said the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) together with Transnet was working around the clock to ensure that all rail corridors were continuously monitored to ascertain that there were no delays or any disruptions in the rail service.

However, passengers should take note that from time-to-time precautionary safety measures might be implemented.

This meant that trains might run at a reduced speed of 15km/h due to inclement hot weather condition which caused “rail breakouts”, she said.

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